Percy, my five year old, was driving me mad tonight. Bedtime was taking an age. I’d had the afternoon off work trying to sort the house and was still in acceleration mode. I didn’t want to slow down.

It was a good day pain wise and I wanted to make the most of it before tomorrow came. So the bedtime shenanigans wound me up. There, I said it. We had our ten minute play, while Percy was an unpronounceable dinosaur and myself a pacleosaurus (or something). We’d feasted on green leaves and lizards and the sun was about to set.

“I need the toilet?”

“Again? It’s late, come on, quickly”

It wasn’t quick.

“I want to sleep on the bottom bunk”

“All your teddies are on there”

I moved all the teddies, we settled down with the two books chosen. A dinosaur encyclopedia and the Jolly Postman.

“Just 6 dinosaurs today Percy”

“OK mama”

I sped through as fast as I could, while Percy flicked back to the beginning, analysing for every scale, dissecting every talon with her eyes. I was becoming impatient.


I read all the letters in the Jolly Postman but refused to read the book in a book. I reasoned it would be 3 stories then and I had so much left to do.

In my mind I listed the jobs.

Fold the clothes from the dryer, put them away. Put a load of washing on. Finish the fudge for teachers. Wrap presents for friends. Print postage labels for presents. Polish the bannister, feed the dog, feed the tortoise, poke the hamster to make sure it was still alive (no one will touch him since he bit twice).

Move the elves, write elves letters, fill out the reward charts. Feed the husband, make the bed.. Write two articles on Trump. Write a website, answer my emails, send proposals, phone my mum. It never ends..

Yet, here we were, time cracking on and my 5 year old said,

“I want to sleep on the top bunk now”

Up we go.

“It’s too hot”

Down I came. I had a wee and texted the husband to turn the heating off.

“I need a drink”

Off I go, pass the husband, playing games on his phone. Not a care in the world and there’s so much to do, my blood begins to boil.

I return to the shouts of “Mama, my teddy’s gone” in the space that never was. That crack between the wall and bed, too far away for the best of us.

Furniture moved and we both settle down I ask permission to leave. It’s been ninety minutes since we began to read.

“I can’t sleep”

“Just close your eyes”

“I’ve forgotten how”

“Just blink for a long time”

“Come lay with me”

“I’ve so much to do”

“Just five minutes please”

So I do.

I’m silently seething, it’s taken too long, I’m the mouse in a dual and the cats clearly won. Licking her lips she tastes the cream, and stares into my eyes as she forgets to dream.

“You close your eyes first”

I do as I’m told and as I do a small hand grabs mine to hold. It’s clammy and sweaty, squidgy and soft, it fits so neatly, under my thumb. I grasp with a gasp, a sigh, I’m lost as I remember what’s really important. Her eyes start to close as I gaze in wonder at this five year old miracle who made me stop. Stop to smell the roses, stop to appreciate the moment, stop to feel the love of a girl who will never be this age again and who may not need her Mama to read the words for much longer.

What was on that list again?